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PhD (ESR) position | Speciation and transport of REE in Passive Treatment Systems of the Iberian Pyrite Belt
04.09.2020
Mol, Belgium
The PhD project proposed by SCK CEN within the frame of the PANORAMA project aims at studying the speciation and transport of Rare Earth Elements (REE) in Passive Treatment Systems (PTS) of the Iberian Pyrite Belt. The main objective is to investigate the efficiency of components used in the PTS and more specifically in the reducing and alkalinity producing systems (RAPS= limestone and organic matter) and to determine the immobilization relevant chemical reactions.
Column experiments will be used to mimic PT systems under conditions representative for the field site. It is foreseen to perform different types of well constrained column experiments enabling to control at the same time chemical parameters (pH, REE concentration, trace metals…), as well as hydrological parameters, such as the flow rate and residence time. Batch-type experiments will also be performed to study which mechanisms are involved in the mitigation of REE concentrations in the AMD PTS, such as e.g. sorption, (co-)precipitation, and/or secondary phase formation.

Under the supervision of SCK CEN and in collaboration with the University of Leuven (KU Leuven), the PhD student will:
(1) Collect and analyze acid mine drainage water samples from selected sites of the IPB,
(2) Use the collected waters in column- and batch-type experiments with selected components of the selected PTS to identify the main processes responsible for the immobilization of the comprised REE (i.e. sorption, (co-)precipitation, incorporation….) by paying particular attention to the role of kinetics,
(3) Characterize formed secondary phases by different techniques, and
(4) Model the experimental results using geochemical and colloidal/reactive transport codes.

The project involves a strong collaboration with (1) the University of Huelva (UHU) for the field work and sampling (2 months) including required research stays (secondments) for 2.5 months at (2) the French national synchrotron facility SOLEIL for the detailed characterization of the formed precipitates/secondary phases, and 2 months at (3) the Spanish consulting company AMPHOS21 to perform geochemical and colloidal/reactive transport modeling supporting the interpretation of the experimental results.

The PhD student will be also involved in scientific/soft-skills meetings and in research activities conducted in other laboratories/companies from Europe and associated countries.

The PhD student will be also involved in scientific/soft-skills meetings and in research activities conducted in other laboratories/companies from Europe and associated countries.

An important component of the training will be the participation to 3 main major training events:
WS1-(December 2020) REE as emerging contaminants: Properties, uses and dissemination –Germany-fundamental REE biogeochemistry and currently known anthropogenic REE inputs into the environment
SS1 (May 2021) - AMD and REE contamination mitigation - Portugal-Management and remediation solutions of AMD in old mining areas and Management of WEEE, recycling areas
WS2 - Colloids and nanoparticles as REE vectors -France- Structural characterization of colloids and nanoparticles by innovative and fine spectroscopic and scattering techniques: X-Ray absorption fluorescence and scattering, light scattering. REE interactions with bearing phases.
SS2 - (Eco)toxicology of REE –Germany- Eco)toxicological concepts and approaches, Physico-chemical properties of REE for bioavailability, ecotoxicity and environmental risk

In addition to these major milestones of the program, the PhD students will 1) continuously develop their core research skills via their own research project locally and within the network while at secondments and conferences, 2) receive a mandatory amount of hard and soft-skills training specific to their own doctoral school, along with mentoring by joint supervising bodies, 3) use conferences both as dissemination events for ESRs results and network events for progress reports and evaluations, and 4) collaborate into practical activities aimed at network-structuring legacy deliverables.

Please find under the following link the complete job offer: https://euraxess.ec.europa.eu/jobs/515845
The Belgian Nuclear Research Centre

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